From Rick Marken (940517.1400) --

Oded Maler (940517) --

I'm sorry to hear that you didn't like my debut "return to the net"
post. Could you explain what it is you didn't like about it? Did I
say something wrong about PCT or the holocaust or my own feelings?

Tom Bourbon (940517.0815) --


People would understand that they (individually) are better off
when everyone is better off --so policies that led, for example, to more
equitable wealth distribution would be preferred to "competition" based
policies, not for political reasons but for scientific reasons -- assuming
that a peacful society was each person's higher level goal.


Agreed, but that final assumption is a big one -- the one that has screwed
up nearly all utopian, egalitarian and collectivist movements that people
have tried to put together.

Actually, I'm not sure that people would have to share this system level
goal. I think that, to the extent that people just want to stay in
reasonably good control, they will see that certain social policies - the
ones that are based on a PCT understanding of other people -- are the one's
to consider in order to achieve control; policies based on the assumption
that people are like other objects -- that they can be manipulated by
external forces -- will simply fade from consideration because people will
realize that these policies not only don't work (something that could have
been determined from observation -- but people are often more interested in
what SHOULD work than what actually does work) but that they can't even be
expected to work when you are dealing with control systems.

If everyone knew PCT, some would use it as a way to go for better control
over others -- the search for a more subtle way to disturb the perceptions
of otehrs would be underway. That's a pretty safe bet.

I wouldn't count the people who try to use PCT to get better control over
others as people who understand PCT; they might know parts of it but they
don't really get the point. They are like people who know enough physics
to try to build a perpetual motion device and not enough to know it can't be
done. I admit that there will be people who try to use PCT to control people -
- but once PCT is to living systems as Newton's laws are to the physical
world, there will not be many people who try to apply PCT this way (and even
fewer who would pay any attention to those who do).

Bill Powers (940517.0030 MDT) said:

When you understand that person
and how the surrounding world of people and things limits the
possible end-points for reorganization, you will understand all
people, and the whole society. And it will become clear what needs
to be done to avoid raising more generations in even deeper trouble.

Tom Bourbon (940517.1228) replies:

Then all "you" need to do is convince enough other people -- that, or
establish The Foundation. Not the PCT foundation, but Isaac Asimov's
Foundation(s). Or is there really a difference? :slight_smile:

PCT has no particular program and, in that sense, I think it differs
fundamentally from all utopian suggestions about the "right" way to
organize societies. Most "utopian" or "best way to run a socity" suggestions
I know of (religions, communism, Skinnerism, Ayn Randism, capitalism, etc)
were either based on incorrect assumptions about the nature of human nature
or have simply avoided consideration of human nature, period. PCT is not like
any religion, social or economic philosophy that specifies the "right" way
for people to organize their interations. PCT doesn't say what to do; it does
say "people are control systems; if you want to achieve social goal X you
will have to take that fact into consideration". PCT doesn't say raise taxes,
lower taxes, centralize economic policy, maintain a completely free market,
love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek. All it say is people are
hierarchically organized perceptual control systems. That has implications
for HOW you can organize people to have a low or high crime rate, a low or
high standard of living, etc. I'm interested in exploring those implications.

Even people who understand PCT will not necessarily apply it to a particular
situation correctly, but so what? People who understand physics and chemistry
make mistakes too; bridges have fallen down, equations come out unbalanced.

I don't think that we, on CSG-L, should be timid about looking at the
implications of PCT for improving society just because we might make
mistakes or look like we are promoting one or another existing ideology. If
the basic priciples of PCT are correct, then we ought to at least try to see
what people might do differently in order to make things better (however
that is defined). There are many people reading this list, each, presumably,
with his or her own special knowledge about something. If someone comes to
some egregiously ridiculous or erroneous conclusion based on their
application of PCT to society, economics, government, etc. I'm sure someone
will be happy to point out the flaw; it would help us out, no?

We live in a world that is improvable and only people can improve it. I want
the world to be better for my kids or, at least, my grandkids. I know that it
can be done; there are better ways for people to organize themselves into
groups than the ways they are doing it now.

PCT doesn't support any existing ideology about government or economics. But
it does suggest what will happen if (as Bill put it) we design the Skinner
box of society in certain ways. Many of the wrong ways to design the box may
seem right to people with certain existing ideologies and this will
make then mad; similarly, some of the right ways to design the box may seem
like the recommendations already made by people with other ideologies and
they will see justification for their views in PCT. My guess is that, if we
pursue a PCT approach to determining the implications of designing the box in
particular ways, some results will infuriate conservatives and other results
will infuriate liberals. I'm not sure that the amount of infuriation will be
equal for both ideologies, but I think the stakes in this effort are
suffiently important that this potential unfairness should be ignored.

So I don't think you should worry so much about attempts to apply PCT to
social problems; if it is done in a spirit of scientific curiosity, we
should be able to catch each other's mistakes.

Oded, for example, has already caught a mistake in my first stumbling
attempts to come back on line (in the "Shindler (should be) missed" post).
Now, if he'd just tell me what it is...



* >From Rick Marken (940517.1400) --


From: Oded Maler (940518)
* Oded Maler (940517) --
* I'm sorry to hear that you didn't like my debut "return to the net"
* post. Could you explain what it is you didn't like about it? Did I
* say something wrong about PCT or the holocaust or my own feelings?

You new style of response forces me to re-read your post more seriously :slight_smile:

I agree that control is an important phenomenon for understanding human
behavior. I do not agree that the world would *necessarily* be a better
place (whatever that means) if everybody understood it. There is a huge
extrapolation you make between the effect of understanding control by
few individuals, and its effects on large societies.

As for the film, I have not seen it and I'm disconnected from most of
the PR surrounding it. I do not expect an Oscar-winning movie to explain
behavior - the goal of such a movie is fame, money and perhaps an attempt
to fix an historical event in the collective memory of the human race for
one more generation. The memory of the historical fact consists of an
of some visual immitations of "observable side-effects" of the event,
namely people arrested, concentrated and extraminated. This is a fact
that happenned beyond any doubt. How and why this could be possible,
can be analyzed by PCT tools at the local individual level (many times
I put myself in Gedanken experiments as a gate keeper in some camp)
but all these are specualtions when it comes to the collective behavior
of millions of people (unless you have come up with a method for testing
controlled perceptions of masses of people in the past).

I don't disagree with you that each and every participant in this
event, Nazi or a Jew, was (intrinisically) controlling for his
perceptions, or that roles can be reversed in other contexts.
I don't see how knowing these facts could have changed anything,
then and now.

To take a less monsterous example - you and few others in the net
really understand control. Does it help you in getting the message
thru "professional" psychology? You can analyze what they control for,
and yet you cannot ahcieve this goal. Why? maybe because what they
control for is in basic conflict with youtr idea - the reason does not
matter - you can analyze them, predict them but you cannot influence them.
Fortunately they do not want to kill you, just reject your papers. Your
higher-level understanding of control does not help you practically.
You cannot influence people who control for the perception "behavior is
S-R" as you cannot influence those controlling for "kill the Jews".

To sum, I see, as usual, two giant leaps from what is more sound
(control by individuals of lower-level perceptions) toward the
speculative: 1) control for ideas, opinions, etc. which is far
from being understood; 2) the aggregated effects of knowing control
on the masses.



Never mind..


Oded Maler, VERIMAG, Miniparc ZIRST, 38330 Montbonnot, France
Phone: 76909635 Fax: 76413620 e-mail: